At the heart of your strategy is knowing what person or group you want to reach to get the action you seek. Without this focus, you may waste time and resources, but with this knowledge you can hone your efforts and messages and be sure they hit the mark.
You will have done some of this investigative work in your landscape analysis and stakeholder mapping exercises where you name the decision-makers and other people and organisations involved in immunisation. You need to look back at your stakeholder mapping and identify strategically who you need to reach to be successful and achieve your immunisation-related advocacy efforts.
Who is the intended audience of your efforts?
The target audience is the person or group or people identified as the intended recipient of your advocacy message. It is the person you are targeting in your advocacy efforts.
Once you have identified your advocacy ask, it will be easy for you to identify who your target audience is. It is usually the decision-maker – the person or group of people with formal power or authority to make the desired change – also known as the primary target audience.
For example, if you are advocating for the introduction of a new vaccine into your routine immunisation programme you may need to target your Minister of Health and/or Finance as they are ultimately the ones who have the decision-making power to make the change occur.
Influencers – who are they?
Influencers are people or groups who can have a compelling impact on the actions, opinions, or behaviour of decision-makers. They are people the decision-makers trust and listen to most; individuals or groups who have special access to decision-makers. These are usually secondary target audiences.
The graph below illustrates the various types of target audiences:
Identify the level of influence and motivation of your target audience
The more direct influence or connections you have with your decision-makers, the more chance you will have to engage them with your vision and goals for immunisation. Don’t limit yourself only to connections you yourself might have. Consider what relationships might exist between the decision-maker and other external partners/colleagues.
Just as it is important to think about the level of influence of those supporting your decision-maker, you also need to think about the level of motivation of the decision-maker to act on a particular change and make a request. Has s/he made a particular policy improvement in the past? How quickly do health priorities become realised in the country?
When you develop your advocacy strategy, you need to be clear on who your target audience is, and who the people you will need to reach are.